Thursday, June 4, 2009

Breaking Up With Soy

My love affair with the soybean is over, I'm sad to say.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I simply can't ignore all the reports on soy's impact on our health and the environment any longer. As much as I've tried to see the redeeming qualities of soy, it would be wrong for me and perhaps somewhat neglectful (since I am, after all, in charge of what my child consumes) to continue stocking our kitchen with all soy products known to Trader Joe's. And that's a whole lotta soy!

I was doing a great job of ignoring the negativity surrounding soy until I opened last week's issue of Sacramento News and Review. I consider the News and Review a great rag (source?) for all things liberal and somewhat saucy, so I definitely took quick notice when their environmental columnist devoted quite a bit of real estate to soy's dirty little secret.

Turns out that Clif Bars have been under close scrutiny lately for claiming that their products are organic when in fact they are using soybeans that are treated with chemical solvent hexane. "What is that?" you're asking.

Hexane is really nasty stuff, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA, certainly a good source for these types of issues, classifies the hexane solvent as a neurotoxin and hazardous air pollutant. Simply stated, you don't want this garbage in your body.

And guess what? All those soy products that you love so much from our beloved TJs, our supermarket staple, Amy's, and the old tried-and-true Gardenburger are all treated with hexane. It gets worse. Before you order that next soy latte or pour your child a glass of cold, vanilla soy milk, consider this: Vitasoy, WestSoy, Soy Dream and Silk are all in on what I call the "hexane hoax."

Yes, we have been duped.

But the bright side is there are some companies that are playing clean in the soy game. They are: Eden Foods, Helen's Kitchen, Tofurky and Wildwood.

So what to do?

We have a case of Silk soymilk that I plan on finishing. And two pints of Silk soy creamer that I'll enjoy. We're all still working on two packages of soy cheese and we just finished the last of the soy yogurt. I finished off the final scoop of my soy protein powder, yet we have two rather big containers of soy shake mix.

My plan is to responsibly use the rest of our soy products and replace them with organic dairy items, rice milk, and almond milk. I won't be buying Amy's items anytime soon, same for Clif Bars, and Gardenburgers are out, too.

It's disappointing to have to part ways with foods that you've grown to love but I'm a firm believer that there are always decent replacements. The threats that hexane present to our bodies and our environment simply cannot be ignored.


Jennifer said...

Do you know where I could find out what other companies have treated their soybean with hexane? For instance, do you happen to know if Boca Burgers or 8th Continent soy milk soybeans' have been treated with heaxane?

jtrauben said...

We're not talking much here. Just a drop; a drop of gasoline with every meal. Who hasn't gotten their hands dirty at the gas station and grabbed a potato chip before washing?

You know it's happened before.

I was asked by our political director Alexis to write an article covering the current media hooplah about a simple hydrocarbon called hexane.


As a by-product of every petroleum refinery on earth, there is a lot of cheap hexane out there and when you consider how efficient this alkane can be, the idea of just dumping it off the shores of Somalia seems so wasteful. For a while we used hexane as a cleaning agent for removing grease in the printing industry as well as a solvent for rubber cement, but since print media is dead and I'm a little too old to still be sniffing glue, hexane needs another gig. Free showers for the homeless? Clean our bullets for a second go? Glue the streets of Detroit to prevent emigration?